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Making the Homeless Move On--We Just Don't Want Them Here
Guilty As Charged
Our community has fought the idea of having a homeless shelter in our town. Our city council meetings have addressed the problem, and in the end each and every time, the shelter was not given proper zoning, or any other way they could come up with to block it's existence, for the council felt that a homeless shelter in town would look bad as far as the tourist trade was concerned.
My argument, that what looked worse for the tourists to see, the homeless shelter, or having to step over sleeping homeless people on the sidewalks downtown? did not go over well and was basically ignored as a sarcastic comment.
I still say that it would look better to the tourist trade here to see that our town was not ignoring the problem, but was addressing it with a shelter. They just did not see it that way. The police continued to arrest them for illegal camping, and for loitering, and for vagrancy. The problem with the loitering charge as far as I was concerned was this fact. It meant that the homeless people had to be constantly moving and walking, for if they stopped anywhere to rest, it was considered loitering. This to me seemed unreasonable. The vagrancy charge was dished out to any homeless person who had less than two dollars in their pocket anytime they were stopped. This was not as unreasonable as not being able to stop anyplace, but it also was discriminatory, for chances were going to be that their last couple of bucks had been spent on a burger for lunch.